Re: Moving from ok queens . . . to great queens.
That's a good calendar, I'll be recommending it to people that ask me about how to time queen raising, thanks for sharing.
As to the rest of your post, sounds like you are pretty much doing most things right. One thing that makes a difference, if the cell finisher is on a flow, and has been for a while, and has that really "pumping" kind of activity and morale level when you open it, they will raise bigger cells and queens than the exact same hive if it is not on a flow. So when there is no flow the finisher should be drip fed constantly, without a break. Some kind of feeder can be used that only let's them take the syrup slowly, so it will last for a while.
In the starter, it's best to use combs of freshly gathered, unsealed honey, as this has a higher moisture level than capped honey, capped honey is too concentrated if they do not have access to water. Some pollen is important also.
Another thing, you might think your queens are not monsters. But they will not become monsters in a 2 frame nuc. Run them in a good healthy full sized hive during the spring build up, and then have a look at them, you might be surprised how much bigger they are than when you introduced them.
"Thinking Inside The Box"